October 28, 2007 Est 1999 Scotland's award-winning independent newspaper
Authors will get the dirt on real crime
Conference brings together top writers

SCOTLAND'S TOP crime writers will be meeting real-life versions of their characters when they join leading forensic scientists and criminal investigators in Edinburgh on Hallowe'en.

Ian Rankin - whose most famous character is Inspector John Rebus - Louise Welsh, Zoe Strachan and Lin Anderson are among a dozen authors who will get to grips with the latest scientific developments in forensics at a major international conference organised by the Macaulay Institute in Aberdeen on soil forensics.

Professor David Miller, research leader at the institute, said: "We invited the crime writers because they have to ensure their credibility by writing accurate information on what you do in forensic analysis. They also want to know what is at the cutting edge, which they can incorporate into their books."


Miller said he hoped a few of the writers would incorporate soil forensics in their next piece of work.

"If one or more go away with a germ of an idea, or a new piece of information they can deploy, that would be excellent because then they've gained something from it."

Crime writer Lin Anderson's main character, Rhona MacLeod, is a forensic scientist so she was delighted to be invited to the Murder Mystery And Microscopes evening.

"A couple of years ago I did the Forensic Medical Science Diploma at Glasgow University. It was fabulous because you could talk and listen to people who really knew what they were talking about. Any research development makes my work even more interesting and is an ongoing part of the story-telling process.

"There's no doubt it provides the colour and definitely stimulates ideas. Often what happens is that little anecdotes come out when they are trying to tell you a story, which makes it very human."

Anderson's latest book Easy Kill, which will be released next September, touches on soil forensics.

"I did a lot of research around the Necropolis and on bodies that are hidden. The soil forensic conference is going to prove very interesting because I'll be able to check up some facts in my storylines."

Among the speakers attending the conference, which begins on Tuesday, is Patricia Wiltshire who has used soil forensics in high-profile cases such as the Sarah Payne and Soham murders.

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